Gutter Heaters: How They Work

Are you having trouble with ice and snow clogging your gutters? Do you dread wintertime because of the runoff and drainage problems that it will cause? Have you had nightmares about all the pounding, chipping, and cracking you’ll have to do just to clear the ice dams out of your gutters?

Then you may want to consider investing in a gutter heater system. Gutters heaters use electricity to generate heat in and around your gutters to melt ice and snow before they can accumulate into ice dams and snow clogs. For many homeowners, gutter heaters provide an effective method of keeping their gutters free of blockages throughout the winter months.

There are several types of gutter heating options. Here are three of the most common:

  • Gutter heating tape. This product actually comes as a roll of “tape” that you run along your gutters and across your roof near the edge of the roof line. The tape affixes with clips and is designed to plug in to a control box which you can attach to the side of your home. Then all you do is run an extension cord from an outlet to the control box. The tape will only activate when the temperature falls below 40 degrees.
  • Gutter cable systems. This concept is similar to heating tape in its installation, except that you are working with cables. These cables can actually lay inside your gutters as well as on top of your roof. Once you’ve run all the cables, you can plug the end in to a power source and they’re ready to go. Cables can be set on a timer so that they come on only during certain times of the day.
  • Gutter heating caps. These units are similar to standard gutter guards in that they are designed to be installed over your gutters. But the metal in these caps can be heated so that ice and snow melts before dams can form. Then the water simply slides off of the cap and into the gutter itself, where it flows through your downspouts and away from your home. Depending on the product, heating caps can be attached to temperature sensors or plugged directly into an electrical outlet.

Whichever approach you choose, it is vital that you use a ground fault circuit interrupter on the outlet or power source for the gutter heating system in order to reduce the chance of fire in the event of an electrical outage. In addition, it is a good idea to purchase a gutter heating system that has been UL approved.

So if ice dams are giving you headaches, check out some gutter heating systems that are available in your area. Who knows—you might actually start looking forward to winter!